Is Jericho worth visiting?

by | Dec 8, 2022 | Jericho, Travel Info

This historic city, with more than 10,000 years of history, clearly deserves a visit if you’re in the West Bank in Palestine. It’s called the city of Palms, and is mentioned in the Bible, in the book of Joshua, as a walled city that was conquered by Joshua, and its walls collapsed after seven days of surrounding the city. It’s today located northwest of the Dead Sea and is known as one of the oldest cities in the world dating back to 9,000 BCE and the lowest in the world 250-270 meters below sea level.

If you are visiting the Holy Land (Israel & Palestine), do not miss a visit to Jericho as there are nice places to visit. Whether you are staying in Jerusalem or Bethlehem, it can be easily visited as a day excursion. It can also be joined with a tour of Bethlehem.

What sites to visit in Jericho?

Monastery of the Temptations

One of the most visited sites is the Monastery of the Temptations located at the cliff of Mount Temptations which commemorates the event from the life of Jesus being tempted by Satan when he was fading for forty days and nights in the wilderness. The monastery is a Greek orthodox monastery accessed by cable car then steps going up to reach the monastery. This monastery is one of the few monasteries remaining from the 70-plus monasteries built in the Judean desert bank during the Byzantine period.

The current structure of the monastery dates back to the 19th century and was built in front of a cave where some monks lived there in the Byzantine period and the church inside the monastery can be visited but no photos or videos are allowed inside.

A spectacular panoramic view of the city, the dead sea, and the mountains of Jordan will be seen from the monastery.

Entry to the monastery is free of charge and the monastery is open daily from 9 am – 3 pm except on Fridays.

Steps to Mount of Temptations

Hisham’s Palace

The site of Hisham’s Palace which was discovered in the late 19th century represents life during the early Islamic Umayyad period of the 8th century CE. It was one of the desert castles built in the area during different periods of time. Today, the ruins of the two-floor palace of the Calipha can be seen but what’s even more spectacular and will make your visits worth it, is the recently uncovered mosaic floor in the bathhouse which contains the largest mosaic carpet from the ancient world that converts 824 meters square floor and still in good condition. The Diwan room which contains the tree of life mosaic cannot be missed. The site includes a small museum and a short film is available to watch.

The entrance fee is 10 shekels per person and the site is open all days.

To read more about Hisham’s Palace visit The Unesco Site.

Tel es-Sultan

The archaeological site of Tel es-Sultan is the oldest site that can be visited in the whole world. Imagine you are around on top of 11,000 years old of history! Yes, it is that old, it’s one of the oldest cities in the world which contains 23 different layers that go back to 23 different civilizations. This is the location where according to Joshua 6:1–27, the walls of Jericho fell after the Israelites marched around the city walls once a day for six days, seven times on the seventh day, and then blew their trumpets.

The oldest discovery of an ancient round tower which was discovered by Cathleen Cinion can still be seen today as well as the walls from the bronze age and houses from ancient times.

To read more about ancient Jericho visit The Ancient Origins Website.

The entrance fee is 10 shekels per person and the site is open all days of the week. A short film can be watched at the site.

Spring of Prophet Elisha and The Monastery of Prophet Elisha

Water from Jericho’s powerful perennial spring provides irrigation for abundant fruit, flowers, and spices. “When the orange and lemon trees are in bloom, in the spring, the air is so heavy with their perfume that the visitor is sure he could bottle some of it and take it home with him,” writes archaeologist Godfrey Kloetzli.

The spring is associated with the prophet Elisha, who purified its waters by throwing salt into it.

The Greek Orthodox Monastery of Prophet Elisha is about turning the salty waters of the area into drinking water. The spring with abundant and crystal clear waters is called “Elisha’s waters” by the Greeks, while the Arabs call it “Ayn el – Sultan”. When Prophet Elisha went to Jericho, “the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. And he said, bring me a new cruse and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake” (4 Kings 2:19-22). The aforementioned spring is the one of which the waters were healed. The citizens of Jericho drink water from the same spring to this day. In the courtyard of the monastery, there is the Zacchaeus’ sycamore tree. It is the sycamore tree on which the publican Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus passing by. The tree was kept intact until the time of Antony of Placenta in the 6th century. It was surrounded by a chapel with an open roof which left an outlet to the tree branches. That chapel was located in Jericho on the main road leading to Jerusalem, where today’s Holy Monastery of Prophet Elisha stands.

Jericho Elisha Spring

Tree of Zacchaeus (Sycamore Tree)

The Bible tells us that Jesus visited Jericho a couple of times and on one of his visits he met with Zacchaeus, the tax collector. There were lots of people who went out to see Jesus but Zacchaeus couldn’t see him as he was a short man so he figured out a way to climb a Sycamore Tree to be able to see Jesus. At that moment Jesus noticed him and asked to visit him at this house.

Today, two nearby locations commemorate this event, a tree located in the garden of the Russian museum land and the other one in the Greek orthodox church of Prophet Elisha. Both can be visited today..

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Ruins of Sugar Mills

The sugar industry flourished as an important economic activity in the Jordan Valley during the medieval period. The cultivation of sugarcane and the production of sugar require abundant water for irrigation generally associated with ample sources of water and water installations available in the Jericho area and provided by the double springs of ‘Ain Nwueima, ‘Ain Deuk, and ‘Ain es-Sultan.

Today the site is not very accessible but can be seen from the cable car you go up to Mount of Temptations or from the main road on the way to the panoramic view of Mount of Temptations.

Jericho City Centre (Downtown)

Even if your day is full of too many visits, a quick stop at the roundabout in the city center is worth it. Simply, you can stop to buy bananas or any of the seasonal fruits and enjoy their taste as you continue your tour, you will find many places selling their goods either in shops or on the street side. It is known for its vegetables and fruits of the best quality due to its elevation and rich soil and fresh water from the springs around. On Fridays, don’t expect to find many places open.

Monastery of Saint Gerasimus

One of the earliest of the 70-plus monasteries of the Judean desert is named in honor of a monk who is usually depicted with a pet lion. Just to the southeast of Jericho on highway 90 located the verdant and welcoming oasis is Saint Gerasimus Monastery in the arid lower Jordan valley.

The monastery commemorates an earlier event in the life of Jesus. According to an old tradition, the monastery was built where Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus took shelter in a cave while fleeing from Herod the Great to Egypt. This event is commemorated in the ground floor crypt beneath the monastery church.

The upper floor church contains holy icons and frescos, including paintings of Gerasimus and the lion. Also, the bones of monks killed during the Persian invasion of 614 AD can still be seen.

In Arabic, the monastery is known as Dier Hajla, meaning the monastery of the partridge, a bird common to the area.

The monastery is open for visitors and pilgrims every day and it is free entrance.

To read more about the monster please visit: See The Holy Land.

Qasr al-Yahud Baptismal Site (Jordan River)

Qasr al-Yahud “The tower of the Jews”, also known as Al-Maghtas, on the Jordan River, across from Bethany beyond the Jordan, traditionally identified as the location of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist on the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17).

The Jordanian side uses the names Al-MaghtasBethany beyond the Jordan and Baptism Site, while the western part is known as Qasr al-Yahud. The nearby Greek Orthodox Monastery of St John the Baptist has a castle-like appearance (thus qasr, “castle”), and tradition holds that the Israelites crossed the river at this spot (thus al-Yahud, “of the Jews”). The monastery is known in Arabic both as Deir Yuhanna. “Monastery of Saint John”, and Qasr el-Yahud.

To read more visit See The Holy Land Website.

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